Caring Together extremely disappointed and concerned at end of free COVID tests for carers

30th March 22

With the Government announcing that people caring for family members will be ineligible for free lateral flow tests, we are extremely disappointed and concerned at the news, and the implications for carers and those they look after.

Free COVID testing for members of the public ends on 1 April. It had been hoped carers would be among with continued access to free testing. It has now been announced this is not the case.

Miriam Martin, chief executive of Caring Together, said, “For many carers and their families, this will be devastating news.

“It has rightly been recognised it is essential that health and care staff have continued free access to testing. And it is equally essential those people looking after family members and friends day-in, day-out have the same access to testing as part of the measures to keep the people they care for safe.

“For this access to free tests to be taken away from them makes no sense. It shows a complete lack of awareness and understanding of the role they play, and the sacrifices they have had to make.

“Many carers are already being faced with impossible dilemmas around their spending on essentials, to now add the question of whether to pay for tests or not is yet another bitter blow for the thousands of carers who are exhausted and at breaking point, particularly when coupled with a rise of just £2 a week in carers allowance for those able to receive it.

“COVID remains an on-going concern for many people looking after vulnerable family members and friends.

“Carers and their families have faced a disproportionate impact on their lives due to the pandemic, and are also among those most affected by the current cost of living increases.

“We are also calling for urgent clarity as to what this will mean for parent carers looking after children with complex health needs. The guidance states that adult social care staff will be covered, but makes no mention to the thousands of care workers providing vital support to children every day. This will add even more strain for parent carers, particularly those who directly employ staff to provide much-needed support to their children.

“The Government regularly repeats that it values carers and the vital role they provide to the people they care for, saving the economy £132 billion per year. It is time that their actions match their words, and so it is imperative this decision is changed as soon as possible.”